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Minister Coughlan announces extention of the deadline for Nitrates Derogation applications

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today announced that she has agreed to extend the deadline for applications for derogations in respect of 2007 under the Nitrates Regulations. The new deadline is 12 October 2007.

"The availability of the derogation is very important for our intensive grassland farmers, particularly those in the dairying sector. Grassland farms that apply for a derogation and meet the conditions will be permitted to exceed the 170 kg of organic manure per hectare limit, up to a maximum of 250 kg per hectare. This extension to 12 October is in response to concerns raised by some farmers who felt that the original deadline of 28 September did not allow them adequate time to consider their position and decide if they needed to apply for a derogation in the current year" Minister Coughlan said.

The European Communities (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2006 (SI no. 378 of 2006) legally oblige herdowners to limit the amount of nitrogen from livestock manure that is applied (including that which is deposited directly by the animals themselves) on individual farms to no more than 170 kgs Nitrogen per hectare per year.

The Nitrates Derogation allows individual farms to operate above this statutory livestock manure limit, up to a maximum limit of 250 kgs Nitrogen per hectare per year, subject to specific conditions. The Department has already published details of the application process and invited derogation applications from herdowners who seek to operate above the limit of 170 kgs of Nitrogen per hectare per year in 2007.

Minister Coughlan said that to further assist farmers, her Department is now arranging to provide 2007 Nitrogen and Phosphorus Statements covering the period 1 January to 31 August 2007. Farmers will need to estimate the quantities of nitrogen likely to be produced by their livestock from 1 September to the end of the year to get an indication of what their overall stocking rate will be for 2007.

Farmers who apply for a derogation will not require a Fertiliser Plan in respect of 2007, although this will be a requirement from next year. For 2007, farmers will only need to complete the record 1 as detailed the Explanatory Handbook for Good Agricultural Practice Regulations published by the Department in 2006. This record should be kept on the holding.

In conclusion, Minister Coughlan advised farmers that they should assess their 2007 situation as soon as possible, and if necessary make application for a derogation before the deadline of 12 October. The Minister added that her Department will not be in a position to accept late applications.

Application forms and information packs are available on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food website, or from:

Environment Section,
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food,
Johnstown Castle Estate,
Co. Wexford
Tel (053) 9163400

18 September, 2007

Note for Editors

The main conditions of the derogation application procedure are as follows:

  • An annual application must be made to the Department in the format specified and applicants must undertake in writing to fulfil the conditions set out therein. Applications must be received by 1 March each year (deadline for 2007 is 12 October).
  • Applicants must be farming a holding that is at least 80% grass.
  • Applicants must have grazing livestock - a derogation is available only in respect of grazing livestock (cattle, sheep, deer, goats, horses).
  • Applicants must have a Fertiliser Plan in place for their holdings by 1 March each year (No plan required for 2007).
  • Applicants must keep Fertiliser Accounts. Fertiliser Accounts must be submitted to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for the previous calendar year no later than 1 March of the following year.
  • Soil analysis will have to be performed at least every four years.

Date Released: 18 September 2007